Buying An Airplane

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Purchasing an aircraft is an exciting process, but it can be complicated one filled with potential problems.  The first step a pilot should take is to research which kind of aircraft best suites his or her needs.  There are many resources in print and on the Internet to help pilots find the best aircraft to for any particular mission.  The most important considerations will be aircraft performance and specifications, maintenance requirements, and purchase price.

Once you have chosen a type of aircraft that meets your needs, you should try to learn as much as possible about that make and model. Type clubs exist for almost all aircraft manufacturers where owners and pilots share information about the operation and maintenance of their aircraft. There will always be members of these clubs who will be willing to offer insights and information that is helpful to a prospective new owner.

Once you have thoroughly researched the make and model of aircraft you wish to buy, the next step is to find one for sale.  The key factors to consider when choosing a particular aircraft will be its total time, the time on the engine since overhaul, its equipment level, and its damage history.

Before making an offer on an aircraft you may wish to ask for a scanned copy of the airframe and power plant logs.  Having a mechanic review these logs will help you to discover any areas of concern. You may also wish to have a search performed on the FAA records of the aircraft's title and incident history. Once satisfied that the aircraft is documented to be in satisfactory condition, and you have negotiated a price with the seller, you will want to make written offer to the owner in the form of a purchase agreement.  Any agreement will be contingent on an inspection of the aircraft by a certified mechanic of the buyer's choosing. Avoid using the seller's maintenance shop as they will not be eager to find flaws in their own work.  Consulting members of the type club will help you to find another local mechanic that is familiar with that make and model of aircraft. 

The inspection should be thorough and it will last at least a day.  At the end of the inspection, the mechanic should be able to produce a list of discrepancies.  The buyer and the seller should go over the list and determine which repairs are necessary and which party will be responsible for payment.  If an agreement is reached, the seller will relinquish the aircraft logs and sign over the title in exchange for payment, concluding the transaction. 

There are few things in life that are as satisfying as being an aircraft owner. Doing proper research and performing a thorough inspection will ensure that the process of becoming an airplane owner is a smooth as possible.
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